We live in a world reshaped by big data and smart digital technologies that scale with ever-decreasing marginal cost. But, to date, too little attention has been given to understanding the implications of this for learning, or to setting out the ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to create learning tools that are more efficient, flexible and inclusive than those currently available; tools that will help learners prepare for an economy that is swiftly being reshaped by digital technologies.
In this important new report, a positive and plausible vision is set out of how learning could be transformed by artificial intelligence in education (AIEd). For example, technology available today could be applied to support student learning at a scale previously unimaginable by providing one-on-one tutoring to every student, in every subject. Existing technologies also have the capacity to provide intelligent support to learners working in a group, and to create authentic virtual learning environments where students have the right support, at the right time, to tackle real-life problems and puzzles.
The future offers the potential of even greater tools and supports. Imagine lifelong learning companions powered by AI that can accompany and support individual learners throughout their studies - in and beyond school - or new forms of assessment that measure learning while it is taking place, shaping the learning experience in real time.
Existing and emergent technology should be leveraged to address some of the most intractable issues in education, including achievement gaps. And ultimately, the tools of AIEd will help us respond to the new innovation imperative in education - the need, in a jobs market re-shaped by technology, to help learners achieve at higher levels, and in a wider set of skills, than any education system has managed to date.
There are three critical forces that must be managed as the future of AIEd emerges: involving teachers, students, and parents in co-designing new tools so that AIEd addresses real needs of the classroom and other learning environments; embedding proven pedagogical techniques in the design of new AIEd-powered edtech products; and creating smart demand for commercial grade AIEd products that work.
This paper is published as part of the Open Ideas at Pearson series. The series features some of the best minds in education - from teachers and technologists, to researchers and big thinkers - to bring their ideas and insights to a wider audience.